Some dreams are meant to be.
You just have to keep the dream alive.
Bryant and Lynelle Martin never quit looking for a space to open a cafe, a goal of theirs for years. It became a reality in September when they opened Sowers Harvest Cafe at 421 E. Beaver Ave.
“We’ve always had this dream together, because we love people, we love food and we love hospitality,” Bryant Martin said. “We’ve had this dream for a long, long time to have an inner city cafe where everyone can mingle and enjoy themselves.”
The Martins looked under every rock and leaf in State College until one day when Lynelle checked Craigslist’s business section.
“We kept our eyes open everywhere for a good downtown space in the range of students and our local community, and we felt that a location that was easy for students to walk to and locals to park at would be perfect,” he said. “When my wife found out about it on Craigslist we had a lease in two days. It’s what we were looking for, and we made our leap pretty quick, because other people were interested in leasing it as well.”
Since then, they say, it’s been the wildest eight weeks of their lives.
They leased what was already a cafe — College Town Cafe to be exact — renovated the inside to match their vision of a communal space and put together a menu that stresses local, healthy sourcing.
“We already had a light framework for a menu, and my wife in collaboration with some other people got right to it to develop an amazing menu,” Bryant Martin said. “It’s not only good food that we want people to keep coming back for. We’ve also got a full espresso line of hot and cold drinks. We get our coffee from Standing Stone Coffee Company in Huntingdon fresh every week.”
The Martins know a thing or two about running a business. They are partners in Tussey Mountain Mulch Landscape Center, a business his father founded in 1988.
The cafe, Bryant Martin said, has offered him a new perspective, particularly as he experiences the melting pot of a town-and-gown community.
“We’ve learned that food transcends cultures,” he said. “A lot of people from so many cultures and walks of life have dined here already.”
A goal of the Martins, aside from serving the best food they can, is to make their 2,500-square-foot, 40-seat eatery a place of cohabitation for students and locals.
“We want to provide friendship and fellowship with State College and Penn State,” he said. “And we really jumped from the kettle into the fire to do that. We opened, and we got so many consecutive Penn State home games. Needless to say, we’ve been busy.”
Sowers Harvest Cafe is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. The cafe may expand its hours with a larger staff, which is now at 10 employees. The Martins would like to hire five more people.